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The sun begins to set on the Missouri River floodwaters west of Hamburg, Iowa, on Sunday.

The Missouri River at Rulo, Nebraska, set a record for high water Wednesday and has started to drop.

The National Weather Service said the river had reached 28.12 feet on Wednesday. That is above the record of 27.3 feet set June 27, 2011. 

At 7 a.m. Thursday, the river depth at Rulo was 27.81 feet. The river isn't expected to fall below 17-foot flood stage until sometime in April, according to the weather service forecast. 

North of Rulo, the city of Brownville reported a Missouri River depth of 42.23 feet at 6:15 a.m. That's nearly 8 feet above flood stage. The river isn't expected to return to its banks until sometime next month. 

At Omaha, the Missouri River had fallen to 32.18 feet as of 6:15 a.m. The weather service expects it fall below the 29-foot flood stage by Saturday night. 

Plattsmouth, where flood stage is 26 feet, showed a depth of 34.25 Thursday morning. Blair reported 28.87 feet, just over 2 feet above flood stage. 

At least 15 bridges in state have been damaged or washed out

At least 15 bridges on the state highway system have washed out or have been damaged, the Nebraska Department of Transportation said Thursday:

· Highway 11 just south of Butte

· Highway 12 Mormon canal west of Niobrara

· Highway 12 Niobrara River west of Niobrara

· Highway 13 East of Hadar

· Highway 15: Two bridges resulting in a closure from Linwood Spur to south of Schuyler

· Highway 14: Two bridges resulting in a closure from the junction of Highway 92 to Albion

· Highway 39 just south of Genoa

· Highway 57 south of Stanton

· Highway 94 truss bridge east of Pender

· Highway 116 South of Dixon

· Highway 121 south of Yankton

· Highway 275 and West Center Road

· Highway 281 just south of Spencer

Truckers are advised to take only marked detours and avoid county roads in these areas. Many of the county roads are unable to support semitrailer truck traffic, officials said.

The department will provide detours for each bridge that has either been washed out or requires repair through 511.nebraska.gov.

Waiver granted for taxpayers affected by flooding

Nebraska taxpayers who have been directly affected and who are unable to file timely tax returns have been granted a waiver, state officials said Thursday.

Tax Commissioner Tony Fulton has granted the waiver of penalties and interest for late returns or payments of taxes that are due on or after March 15 through April 14 so long as the returns are filed and payments made by April 15.

Department officials will work with businesses and individuals regarding any tax returns and taxes due, including sales tax returns, if they have no access to their computer, files or tax records. For further information, call 800-742-7474 (in Nebraska and Iowa) or 402-471-5729, or visit the department’s website.

Bellevue officials to provide updates 

Bellevue city officials and others will provide an update on flood cleanup and related topics at a forum scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday.

The forum will be held at the Bellevue Junior Sports Association, 1001 High School Drive.

City officials said they are confident a majority of flooded homes in the area will be a total loss. A few homes in the Green Acres area were untouched or minimally affected by the flood and may be habitable, officials said. It's highly likely, the officials said, that all homes in the Paradise Lakes area will be uninhabitable.

Free legal help available

Free legal help is available for low-income flood survivors in Nebraska through Nebraska Legal Aid's Disaster Relief Project.

It's crucial that people know their legal rights and the benefits and resources available to them, the group said.

The free assistance is available through both online resources and a network of trained volunteer lawyers across Nebraska.

People affected by flooding in the state can go to www.disaster.legalaidofnebraska.org for more information.

Creighton fans can bring donations to CHI Health Center

Creighton fans who will attend the Bluejays' Friday night game at the CHI Health Center are asked to bring cleaning supplies, blankets, water and canned food with them to donate.

Donations will be accepted at Chevy pickup trucks parked near entrances to the convention center.

The Creighton game against Memphis is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Donations will be accepted starting at 5:30 p.m.

For those people who won't be at the game, Chevy dealers will be accepting donations at their businesses this weekend.

Lincoln lifts water restrictions

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler on Wednesday lifted the mandatory water restrictions imposed Sunday because of flood damage at the city's water facilities at the Platte River.

He also urged residents and businesses to continue to voluntarily conserve water as work continues to repair the water infrastructure.

All residents and businesses are asked to reduce water consumption by 25 percent. Car washes will be allowed to reopen at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Beutler said wells in the north wellfields have begun production and capacity has risen from 32 to 40 million gallons per day.

Valley, Waterloo start cleanup with volunteers

Floodwaters have mostly receded in the city of Valley, according to City Councilwoman Cindy Grove, who also heads the Valley Days Foundation. Roads and property are damaged, but hundreds of volunteers are helping out.

Still, she said there’s currently a list of about 50 people who have requested help cleaning up that aren’t able to do it on their own.

“We’re matching up volunteers with people who need help,” she said. “We also have a big group of people who have come up to town and are just going around helping people they see.”

The City of Valley has placed dumpsters along West Street, Mayne Street, Pine Street, East Street and Sunset Circle and is accepting larger items such as appliances at the city yard at 210 N. Locus St.

“They’re getting full so fast that we can’t keep them empty,” Grove said.

Grove is helping collect supplies at the United Faith Community Church Campus building at 921 S. Mayne St.

Volunteers are compiling pantry boxes, cleaning supply buckets and personal hygiene bundles. Grove said they are still in need of plastic containers, boxes and other moving supplies for those that have to leave home.

Those hoping to volunteer can find more information on the City of Valley’s Facebook page or by emailing cityvalleyne@gmail.com.

“If you’re not coming to volunteer or you don’t live here, keep your traffic in town to a minimum,” Grove asked. “We have so many people that are surveying the damage and cleaning up that we don’t need all the onlookers.”

In Waterloo, Assistant Fire Chief Travis Harlow said interior drainage has been pumped out and that the levee did not break.

Neighboring communities, including Riverside Lakes, are still trapped, waiting for crews to build a road in and out of the neighborhood.

Many members of the Waterloo community, he said, are helping their neighbors in Valley.

Minnesota governor sends helicopter, crew to Nebraska

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has sent Minnesota Army National Guard troops to Nebraska to help deal with flooding.

Walz signed an executive order Thursday in response to Nebraska’s request for helicopter support. Minnesota sent one CH-47 Chinook helicopter with 10 crew members to support flood response operations in Nebraska.

Walz is a Nebraska native and retired Minnesota National Guard member.

Mobile lab will test private well water in three Nebraska communities

A mobile lab will stop in three Nebraska locations — Fremont, Norfolk and Verdigre — this week to provide free water testing for private well owners. 

Flooded private wells or wells suspected of being impacted by flooding may need testing to ensure that well water is safe. Cloudiness or change in taste or smell are signs of possible contamination. However, residents are encouraged to test their well water if there is any indication that the water supply has been breached by floodwaters, even when there are no noticeable changes in taste or smell.

To have water tested at the mobile lab, residents should first pick up a free testing kit from the mobile lab during operating hours or from one of three area health departments: 

» Three Rivers Public Health Department, 2400 N. Lincoln St., Fremont

» Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, 2104 21st Circle, Wisner

» North Central District Health Department, 422 East Douglas St., O'Neill

Using the kit, collect a water sample from the private well and take it to the mobile lab for testing.

Mobile lab locations and hours:

Fremont, 2400 N. Lincoln St.: Thursday, 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Norfolk, 302 W. Phillip Ave.: Friday, 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Verdigre,  301 S. Main St.: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to offer this service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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kevin.cole@owh.com, 402-444-1272